Retaining Walls & Their Purpose

Retaining Walls & Their Purpose

August 8, 2017 , In: Landscaping, Outdoors , With: No Comments

Landscape retaining walls are an important feature. Not only do they hold back dirt and soil, but they can add extra aesthetic appeal to an otherwise boring and bland property. An element that’s both functional and visually appeasing, modern retaining walls are just as necessary as they are complementary. Here’s what you need to know about them.

Typical Applications for Retaining Walls

There are several purposes for modern retaining walls. Depending on your surrounding landscape, you might use a wall to separate your property from a neighbor’s. You can also carve out a niche for relaxing and entertaining guests. They can even be used to block your garden’s runoff pollution or some of the sound pollution coming from nearby highways or other public attractions.

Public parks often utilize retaining walls for privacy or separation. Not only are they great for sectioning off entire areas of a park or playground, but retaining walls separate the park from streets or sidewalks. Retaining walls are useful around public sports fields to help separate them from the other guests.

Within commercial and road construction, retaining walls are often used to prevent loose soil and dirt from spilling out onto the roadway. Although these fixtures focus on safety instead of luxury, many of them still feature the same materials.

retaining wall at farm

Common Materials Used for Retaining Walls

Precast and preformed concrete blocks are one of the most popular materials for building retaining walls today. Apart from being readily available and comparatively inexpensive, they come in a variety of different sizes and shapes. This lets you find the exact look you want without having to sacrifice any of the retaining wall’s primary function. Bricks and poured concrete also offer many of these same advantages.

Raw, unrefined boulders and large rocks can also serve this purpose. While this can result in a rather unique and eye-catching aesthetic, the process of finding the right boulders, transporting them to your home and arranging them in a functional fashion is a tedious job. These retaining walls don’t protect against water seepage, as some of the alternatives do, so boulders and large rocks are better left for dry regions and elevated properties.

Stone veneer is another option. One of the sleekest and most stylish of all retaining walls, the veneer features an outside façade for looks and a solid inner core for durability. Such walls can reach nearly any thickness, length or height, unlike some of the other options, but advanced engineering might be necessary when working with heights over four feet and lengths beyond six.

Another popular choice for modern retaining walls is simple wood planks or logs. They are usually no more than four feet tall and made up of wood that is no more than six feet in length. For larger spans, several pieces of wood can be stacked together, both 

on top of one another and side by side, to create a retaining wall of the right height and length.

Sloped Retaining Walls

You’ll find some retaining walls on slopes. Some materials are better suited for steep hills than others, but they all work for this application. In this case, try to use the terracing strategy for maximum efficiency. Once finished, the final design will resemble steps in a staircase. A job of this scope is best done in smaller increments so you can avoid any huge mistakes or errors in the process.

Preparing to Build Your Retaining Walls

The process of building a system of retaining walls isn’t as simple as just dropping down a few bricks or planks and calling it good. If you want your retaining wall to last through the years, it’s important to do the job right.

Start by marking off the ground-level placement of your retaining walls. Use a shovel to carve out a rough outline and mark the corners with wooden stakes. In longer walls, stakes should be driven in at intervals of 8 feet to minimize the size of any gaps.

Now you can prepare your base. Excavate your marked area to a depth of approximately 8 inches and fill it halfway with small rocks or gravel. Use a rake to achieve a smooth surface and verify with a surface level. Once everything is even, you can begin the process of building the actual wall.

Making the Most Out of Your Retaining Wall

Retaining walls are a highly functional landscaping feature that can alsoadd beauty, value and, in some cases, safety to property. Many build their retaining wall and let it perform its duty, but feel free to decorate your wall. Flowers and plants work well at the top or along the bottom of these structures. Other decorations, such as yard ornaments or even a fresh coat of paint, can go a long way in building a retaining wall just as fashionable as it is functional.

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Editor at Your Wild Home
Hey! I'm Megan. I am a dog-lover and enjoy exploring the outdoors. Your Wild Home covers a lot of topics, including (but not limited to) home improvement, home decor, construction, real estate, and sustainability. I enjoy writing in third-person and I am addicted to chocolate, coffee, and terrible puns. Learn more on my About Me page!
Retaining Walls & Their Purpose
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Retaining Walls & Their Purpose
Landscape retaining walls are an important feature with many benefits. Learn how to use them to improve your home by clicking here.
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Your Wild Home
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